Time to pray for wisdom and discernment, say UK's Church leaders as Brexit uncertainty continues

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With the UK no clearer about its exit from the European Union following this week's Commons vote, Church leaders are asking Christians to join together in prayer for the political situation. 

In particular, churches are being asked to pray for Britain's politicians and political institutions during their Sunday services. 

The call came from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) as its member churches and associated bodies embarked on the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. 

'We believe that this is a time that requires particular prayers for discernment and wisdom, as well as a time for deep listening to God's call to live together in peace and justice,' said CTBI. 

The defeat of Theresa May's Brexit deal in Parliament this week has plunged the withdrawal process into greater uncertainty as calls for a second referendum grow louder. 

The Government has now started cross-party talks in a bid to end the Westminster deadlock ahead of a second vote on a new plan set to take place on January 29. 

But talks have already faltered as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded that the Prime Minister rule out a no deal Brexit before agreeing to meeti with her to discuss options, something she said was 'impossible'. 

North of the border, Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second Brexit referendum after recently suggesting that Britain's departure from the EU would only made another referendum on Scottish independence more likely.

Moderator of CTBI and Coptic Archbishop of London, Archbishop Angaelos said: 'This is a time at which many feel anger and anxiety over the future, and so we need to pray that those who have the heavy burden of political leadership in our country find a unity that brings our communities together in the task of serving the common good. We hope and pray that every person of faith will join us in prayer across our nation, and beyond.' 

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have echoed the call for prayer as they urged churches to pray 'for wisdom, courage, integrity and compassion for our political leaders and all MPs; for reconciliation; and for fresh and uniting vision for all in our country'. 

Rev Brian Anderson, President of the Irish Council of Churches, said: 'As we come together in prayer at this time of uncertainty we are mindful of the importance of protecting relationships in the interest of the common good.

'We particularly want to encourage public representatives, and all others who give leadership in our society, to weigh their words carefully, to respect the integrity of those who conscientiously differ from them and to speak with grace.'

Patrick Coyle, Moderator of Cytun (Churches Together in Wales) also welcomed the 'important' call to prayer. 

'This is a critical time in our history when the need to put all our effort, physical and spiritual into supporting our political leaders in their crucial work of building strong communities,' he said. 

The following prayers have been produced to pray for Britain and Brexit: 

Prayer 1

God,
who in Jesus,
broke down all barriers,
between people of different races
rich and poor,
male and female,
Jew and Gentile,
between heaven and earth,
we worship you.

God,
at this time of heavy responsibility,
as decisions about future relationships
with our neighbours in Europe are being taken,
we pray for our leaders:
that they will lead wisely;
that they will listen attentively;
that they will exercise grace;
and that they will know peace
in their deliberations.

God,
at this time of uncertainty,
within our nations and communities,
we pray for ourselves:
that we will remain open to the stranger;
welcoming to the neighbour;
and committed to those who struggle.

God,
we pray for your church of which we are a part:
that we might be a place of honest reflection;
respectful dialogue;
open friendship;
humility and reconciliation.

We pray that
we might be a community that points to heaven,
and shows ways in which heaven is glimpsed on earth.

God,
who in Jesus,
breaks down all barriers,
between people of different races
rich and poor,
male and female,
Jew and Gentile,
between heaven and earth,
we worship you.

AMEN

Prayer 2

Living Christ,
You are present with us in all times, sharing the brightness of our joy and walking with us through times of darkness.
You speak words of wisdom into our folly,
You speak words of reassurance into our fear,
You seek out those who are lost and looking for the way.

In these times of confusion, uncertainty and fearfulness about our nation's future, we need your wisdom, your reassurance and your compassion.

Speak to all of us now, leaders, citizens, fearful residents, those with a voice and those whose voices seem never to be heard. We lay before you the life of our nation and long for your gentle rule to be established amongst us.

As our leaders try to make decisions that will address an impasse,
Give them wisdom and a true capacity for discernment, that at the forefront of people's minds is not political advantage but the wellbeing of all people.

As people feel fearful of what the future holds, help us to build a community in which all feel welcome and heard and a truer sense of belonging to one another is established.

As we witness heated argument that could so readily turn to aggression,
Sooth us and inspire in us all your gentleness,
that we may curb attitudes that lead to strife.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ who sought to welcome the stranger, to bind up the broken hearted and to pave the way for costly peace making.
Amen.

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